Brunswick dissolves economic development commission, corporation; creates county department is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

Industry recruitment and economic development in Brunswick County will now be a function of the county government.

Brunswick County commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to dissolve the county’s Economic Development Commission and Economic Development Corporation; instead opting to create a county department to oversee economic development in the county. The move came hours after all members of the board of directors for the commission and the corporation resigned their posts on Tuesday.

Jim Bradshaw, the former Economic Development director set to retire in October, will continue serve as a special assistant to Brunswick County Manager Ann Hardy for economic development until his retirement. Hardy will serve as the county’s interim economic development director until a permanent director is named.

“The Brunswick County Economic Development Commission and Corporation have provided valuable assistance to industries considering relocating in Brunswick County for decades,” Brunswick County Manager Ann Hardy said. “We look forward to continuing to provide quality support and efforts to recruit jobs and industries to our county, and appreciate the efforts of all involved to find the most efficient ways to do so.”

During a meeting last week, the board of directors that oversees the Brunswick County Economic Development Commission (EDC) adopted a resolution that the EDC and its nonprofit Economic Development Commission Foundation separate from county government. Ultimately, the board accepted Hardy’s third option for the EDC to become “a truly separate organization” from the county government.

Related story: Brunswick Economic Development Commission to separate from county; director to retire

Hardy spoke with Port City Daily last week about what prompted her decision to present board members with options on how to proceed, citing employee bonuses and other expenses paid for by the corporation as reasons for the change in operations. 

Members of the board of directors were also paid twice per meeting–once by the county-funded commission and again by the corporation, she said.

“[The corporation] spent $9,200 in audit and tax preparation fees for an entity that has very few transactions,” she said. “They spent almost $64,000 from 2009 to 2014 in bonuses for three staff members. They spent $3,300 for artwork that’s in the Leland Center. They spent about $10,800 for gifts and their December meeting. Gifts were cheese and steaks from the butcher. They spent almost $7,000 in per diems.”

“$82,246 was spent on staff bonuses, [board of] director fees, gifts and Christmas meetings,” Hardy said.

Read related coverage: